Will Matiang’i, Macharia survive in cabinet shuffle?

Will Matiang’i, Macharia survive in cabinet shuffle?


A silent war is brewing between Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and East Africa Court of Justice judge Charles Nyachae ahead of looming cabinet reshuffle. This is after it emerged that Nyachae is being pushed to be in cabinet in the looming reshuffle by those against Matiang’i whose rise as a super minister in the Uhuru Kenyatta cabinet has not been received well. Matiang’i’s name also features prominently among those in Uhuru’s succession race. During Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent executive order that whittled down the powers of the office of William Ruto, Matiang’i cabinet coordination office was also affected by those well versed with power games. In the executive order No 1 of 2020, many will have noticed that the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee Matiang’i chairs, were not under his ministry. The order reveals the planned creation of Oversight and Coordination in Delivery of National Priorities and Flagship programmes.

Fred Matiang’i

The order will lead to the formation of the cabinet office to be headed by a powerful secretary. Initial reports indicate the position of chief cabinet secretary is in the offing with ODM leader Raila Odinga earmarked for it. However, a section of Raila handlers is opposed to the move. Going by the current happenings at Raila’s Capitol Hill private office where governors, senators, principal secretaries, cabinet secretaries including Matiang’i visit and politicians, the seasoned politicians in already in charge of the Oversight and Coordination of National Priorities and Flagship programmes. The only missing link being that the official office will be shifted to Harambee House. Sources say Matiang’i and Nyachae power struggle has placed the president in an awkward position. The two are relatives. In fact, Matiang’i’s appointment was linked to the Nyachae family support for Uhuru second term re-election in 2017. The former minister, Simon Nyachae family, was pushing for nomination of young Nyachae to the senate but he met roadblocks.

Sources say that Uhuru dilemma in Gusiiland being that the region cannot have two cabinet secretaries at the same time the Chief Justice David Maraga. If Nyachae is named to the cabinet, then Matiang’i has to be sacrificed. Those baying for Matiang’i’s blood link him to Ruaraka land scam ghost that has refused to disappear. They further claim that as Uhuru is trying to unify Kenyans, the CS is instrumental in the registration of a new political party with roots in Gusiiland. The CS is blamed for not defending the community as prominent personalities are sacked. Those mentioned are the former managing director of Kenya Ports Authority Daniel Manduku and Charles Ongwae of Kenya Bureau of Standards. The current frustrations facing CJ Maraga are also mentioned. In the Rift Valley dominated Kalenjinland, the region has Kipsigisland of Kericho and Bomet counties. In the cabinet, the region has two cabinet secretaries in the name of Charles Keter, Energy, and Betty Maina, CS Trade ministry.

Charles Nyachae

Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Ruto is from the region just as is Kanu secretary-general, Nick Salat. Also from the community is former powerful permanent secretary for internal security, Zachayo Cheruiyot. Rutu, Salat and Cheruiyot names are being mentioned as likely to join the cabinet. Analysts say, if anything, the region is only in the government with two cabinet slots, and thus, a face has to be sacrificed to have a new one join. If not, one has to be sacked and a replacement found either from the region or outside. Further, others argue that the two current CSs need to go to create way for appointments. Keter has performed well in Energy ministry and gets on well with Uhuru and his deputy due to being level headed. How Uhuru will handle the Kipsigis equation in cabinet shuffle is eagerly awaited. Then we move to Nandi region in Kalenjinland. The current Lands CS Faridah Karoney is from the region and the only one.

Talk is rife, Kiprono Kittony, former president of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a Nandi is to join the cabinet. Kiprono is allied to Kanu leader Gideon Moi with Karoney a DP William Ruto project in the cabinet. Will Kittony replace Karoney? Another face is that of Sally Kosgei. However, Kosgei decision to engage ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is being used against her. Then we move to Baringo county politics, the home turf of Gideon Moi. The Kanu leader is caught in the mix as word has it that he is pushing for the sacking of Labour CS Simon Chelugui and land the slot. However, Weekly Citizen has information that he is not after the cabinet slot and may decide to push for a different person. If Chelugui is sacked, analysts say it will work against Gideon and Uhuru in 2022 succession politics in Baringo county.

Chelugui was linked to the dam scandal but has never been charged even after recording statements over Itare dam. If Chelugui is haunted out, it will be purely to his relationship with Ruto and political rivalry with Gideon. The political implications may end up being heavy. Will former cabinet minister Musa Sirma end up replacing Chelugui? Rift Valley political analysts aver that Uhuru after the sacking of Henry Rotich as Finance CS never considered Keiyo and Elgeyos in the cabinet. Rotich is a Keiyo. Will the region be considered in the much-talked reshuffle? And if so, who? Word has it that Transport PS Esther Koimett, daughter of late Nicholas Biwott is being considered. Word has it that the recent move to name Samuel Poghisio as senate majority leader courtesy of Gideon, has ruled out the Turkana and Pokot getting a new slot. John Munyes, CS Petroleum will be retained in the cabinet. From Kalenjinland, we have Western Kenya. Although Eugene Wamalwa, Devolution CS is a Luhya, his political heart is in Trans Nzoia, Rift Valley.

Zachayo Cheruiyot

The region had Rashid Echesa as CS before being sacked. Amina Mohammed, the Sports CS has roots in Kakamega county. Analysts say the four counties of Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Busia are unrepresented in the cabinet as Kipsigis has two. Word has it that Raila after mending fences with former cabinet minister Paul Otuoma wants him considered. Amina has been linked to Ruto camp in Jubilee, and it is not known if she will be sacrificed in the looming cabinet reshuffle. Insiders revealed to us that the president is under pressure from Raila, Gideon and Kalonzo Musyoka to appoint their cronies to strategic positions to give them a headstart in the succession race. Gideon, who doubles up as the Kanu national chairman, and recently entered into a post-election coalition with the ruling party, is lobbying to be allocated lucrative dockets. He wants Agriculture docket currently held by Peter Munya, and Water and Irrigation held by Sicily Kariuki.

If Uhuru yields to pressure, and have Munya out of Agriculture docket, it will complicate matters in Mount Kenya East politics after Kindiki Kithure was removed from plum senate deputy speaker position. Governor Kiraitu Murungi is lobbying for Munya’s removal as he wants to oppose and reclaim Meru governorship seat in 2022. The sources added that Raila is also lobbying for at least five cabinet slots, top being the Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works headed by James Macharia. There are reports Macharia, who hails from Murang’a county might be axed from the cabinet over claims of corruption.Sources say the Lands chief administrative secretary Gideon Mung’aro who hails from Kilifi county is being fronted by Raila to take the Lands docket. Recently, Mung’aro was among leaders who met Raila at his Capitol Hill offices. Further, Rachel Omamo will be shuffled from the Foreign Affairs docket to her former post, Defence.Kalonzo is pushing his ally land cabinet slot to replace Monica Juma who will be dropped on health grounds. Kalonzo has declined cabinet slot if given to him although there are those of a different view who say if that was so why has Kalonzo not picked a Kamba to be considered instead.

Coast region is likely to have Samson Mwathethe join Najib Balala in the cabinet. In Nyanza, talk is that Uhuru has three cabinet secretaries from Siaya county in the name of Prof George Magoha, Education, Omamo, Foreign Affairs and Raphael Tuju minister without a portfolio. Tuju survival hangs in the balance with the emergency of Raila. Will the position of Tuju be shifted to either Homa Bay or Migori, to allow Tuju to run complex Jubilee party affairs? The survival of Omamo does not lie with Uhuru or Raila but members of the larger Kenyatta family who told the president to have her in the cabinet by virtue of being their in-law. The Kenyatta family is known to honour their inlaws. The late Mbiyu Koinange was Jomo Kenyatta’s brother-in-law and held a powerful cabinet position of Minister of State in Kenyatta’s regime having married Mbiyu’s sister Grace Wanjiku in 1946. Fiona Achola Kenyatta is the granddaughter of late cabinet minister William Omamo and niece of CS Omamo. Fiona is wife of Jomo Kenyatta, a son of Uhuru.